I like reviews. A movie tonight?  I'm off to RottenTomatoes.com to check it out. Hungry? First to Yelp to see the reviews and and whether any particular dishes are to be checked out or avoided, before I make reservations on OpenTable.com. I check reviews on Amazon before I buy a book or make a major purchase, and TripAdvisor is always good for a recommendation and sometimes for a laugh. I've seen people diss a resort because there was no turn down service with chocolate on the pillow! If something is reviewed enough, there's always a full spread from the one-star to the five-star.

As a review enthusiast, imagine my surprise when I recently Googled myself to discover that the first page of search results revealed a HealthGrades one-star review of my psychiatric practice!

In an post on Shrink Rap, I discussed why I believe this article was not written by a patient of mine. Click HERE to read that post. Over on Clinical Psychiatry News, I wrote about what transpired when I asked to have the review investigated-- you can read about that by clicking HERE.

If you want the punch line, when I requested an investigation, HealthGrades informed me:

Our patient experience survey investigation has been completed. All surveys for your profile will be removed due to the conflict of the ethical responsibilities and constraints for Behavioral Health Providers and their clients. It will take 14 business days for our websites to update the changes.

In fact, the review was removed the following day, and when I asked HealthGrades to remove my listing from their site, they did. I also asked Vitals.com to remove my listing (there, I have a full 4/4 star review for all categories) and they told me they won't remove physician listings.  

Mostly, this is to let you know that HealthGrades will remove surveys for behavioral health providers. Vitals.com, apparently, will let the provider remove up to two reviews. 

What do you think? Should websites exist that provide a venue for members of the public to rate doctors without verifying that the reviewer has actually seen the physician, or that the review is true? Do you want to see a physician who gave himself seven great online reviews? Do you want your jilted ex-lovers rating your practice online? When is it free speech and when is it vindictive slander?

About the Authors

Anne Hanson, M.D.

Annette Hanson, M.D., is co-author of Committed: The Battle Over Involuntary Psychiatric Care.

Steven Roy Daviss MD, DFAPA

Steven Roy Daviss, M.D., is chair of Psychiatry at Baltimore Washington Medical Center, informatics and policy wonk for URAC, CCHIT, and an HIE.

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